Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Dinner Theater

        What is sweet through and through often makes us sad in the end ~ Jón Kalman Stefánsson

Early evening. The scene opens with a scowling old man wandering the streets of a trendy tourist destination on the California coast. He is a man on a mission.

Standing on a corner, three wyrd sisters see the old man approach, side-eying him as he totters by.

The man senses a whiff of irreverence from the trio as he continues on.

Finding an upscale restaurant he goes in and, after suitable deliberation, orders a very expensive dinner to go.

“It’ll be ready for pick up in 15 minutes… ” says the host. “I'll be back… ” says the man.

The old man steps out and ambles down the street toward the beach, idly exploring the town which is lit a rosy red from the setting sun. After a suitable length of time, he returns to the restaurant and picks up his order. The man begins to head back to his car and again encounters the trio of the loitering young women. They are still in the same place; a “girl-gang” with an attitude that some might perceive as threatening. But the man is not troubled—for what harm could come from such heavenly creatures? So young, so adorable, clad in fashionable glad-rags and mischievous attitudes? His gait picks up, his posture improves, and a smile breaks his dour mien.

Suddenly, they turn in unison, they are looking right at him! The man’s thoughts began to race…
omg… such impossibly smooth skin… the magic in their eyes is spell-binding… everything wonderful and mysterious in the universe is in these three sirens… their presence disarms my defenses with the implied offering: ‘Join us! Our union will create the new Eden where our children will dwell in a utopia of infinite opportunity… ’
                                                (!)         (!)         (!)

And then one of them, the boldest, steps forward and speaks:

“Hey! What did you get?”

“Uh, takeout dinner… Korean Bar-b-que.”

“Where did you get that?”

“Just down the street, the Pana… Pana…”

“The Pangaea?”


“Cool… ”

And, with a tossing of curls, the women are off in pursuit of their dinner.

It had been years since a teenage girl had even acknowledged the old man’s existence, much less spoken to him. He smiles, grateful for the brief moment of grace, but then his expression of joy quickly fades and his dolorous expression returns.

The old man walks into the wings of the stage holding the lonely box of take-out food in his hands in front of him, as if it were an offering. After he departs there is the sound of a car door opening and closing and an engine starting, then the sound of tires on pavement.

The sun sets and the stage becomes dark.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, March 28, 2022

Venues in Iceland -#13

KEX Hostel
This off-venue has it all: great sound, fabulous intimacy, an inviting bar and you can crash here in the full-fledged hostel. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, located in an industrial building (that used to make KEX crackers) but the inside has a large lobby which is used as a performance space during Airwaves. Sponsored by Seattle radio station KEXP, many of the more esoteric acts played there.

Skúli Sverrisson og Bára Gísladóttir:
One drawback is that it is too successful, the crowd size is often limited, although you can see dozens of performances on YouTube.

The legendary DJ Kevin Cole handling introductions, 2018:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, March 25, 2022

More From Carmel

Selected images from my recent trip to California.

This is the scene that greeted me each day as I stepped out of my rental in the Carmel Highlands:
Bird Rock, Pebble Beach:
Cypress Grove, Point Lobos:
Diver’s Gear, Whaling Station Museum, Point Lobos:
Carmel Highlands:
Point Lobos:
Meyer Lemon/Arugula pizza at The Corkscrew Cafe, Carmel Valley:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The Inspection Redux

This is a FITK re-post (with added images) from November, 2007
The transition from the "soaring sixties" to the "sleazy seventies" was a bit bumpy at times, to say the least.

It was early in 1970, I was sharing a girlfriend with a classmate (you really don't want to know) and they both worked at The Suburban World movie theater, which was actually a little gem of a cinema. Moorish decor and twinkling “stars” and floating “clouds” on the ceiling. The Sub World had fallen upon hard times, it was reduced to playing Scandinavian “art house” films (really just soft-core skin-flicks with subtitles.)

My shared-girlfriend would often cashier there and would let me in to see the movies, which really were most peculiar. I remember one film in particular where the leading man had parked his car outside a woman's apartment, revving his Volvo while she revved her vulva:

On a different night one of my girlfriend's co-workers was interested in meeting her “other boyfriend.” This “usherette” came smiling up to me with her hand extended so I put mine out in return, but instead of shaking it she deftly inserted her hand into my pants pocket, giving me a most thorough examination.

At the time, her actions seemed a little forward, although somehow it fit in with the milieu.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Venues in Iceland - #12

Listasafn Reykjavíkur
Reykjavík Art Museum
The calm before the storm.

This venue has been a mainstay of Iceland airwaves for years. The performance space is actually a courtyard of the old customs building and the roof is canvas, so you can sometimes hear the sound outside. Here’s a video of Baggalútur, a satirical musical comedy troupe, performing there in October 2006:

And a wild one from the great Páll Óskar, October, 2009:

And, finally, the incomparable Apparat Oragan Quintet, featuring the late Johann Johannsson on vocorder, October, 2006:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Union Bar Tapes -#2

Darling, Darling, Darling

This is a cover of The Meters tune, written by Roquel “Billy” Davis.

Danny Rowles sings lead and solos on the Hammond organ. Jimmy Derbis solos on guitar.

Take a look at more Explodo Boys videos, CDs and stories.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Venues in Iceland - #11

Gaukur á Stöng or, as it is commonly referred to: Gaukurinn, is a pub and live venue at Blöndalshús on Tryggvagata in downtown Reykjavík. The building housing it has had a variety of configurations, from the website I gather thatit is evidently now upstairs (where the short-lived Sódóma was) and Húrra occupies the main floor, where Gaukurinn used to be. It is positively ancient in Reykjavik bar terms; it has been open since 1983 (before beer was legalized in Iceland!) and is notable for its diverse crowds and is welcoming of all types people (except assholes!)

Gaukurinn holds a special place in my heart: My very first musical experience in Iceland took place there in March of 2000, when an anonymous cover band played Highway to Hell. In 2004 I saw the jazz/fusion band Mezzoforte (which was definitely a step up from AC/DC) and had many good times there at various Iceland Airwaves shows as well. Most nights there are DJs  but be sure to check out the schedule for live music at both Gaukurinn and Húrra if you are ever in Reykjavík.

Crowd, 2006:
Ditka, 2006:
Hellvar, 2006:
Gruska Babuska, 2018:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Carmel Capers

The Weaver and I recently returned from a delightful week spent in and around Carmel-by-the-Sea on the California coast. A welcome respite from the long Minnesota winter (and a horrendous ice storm), we hiked and explored various locations up and down Highway 1, and spent some quality time just hanging out on the beaches.

Fabulous food, quaint shops and glorious sunsets were only part of the quirky charm of Carmel-by-the-Sea. At The Corkscrew, in the Carmel Valley, we even ate a pizza made with Meyer lemons and arugula. Our home base was a  hand-built studio (entrance shown at right) where I got a real sense of the history of the Carmel Highlands and some vibes of its its noted residents: Dick and Mimi Fariña, Edward and Brett Weston, Ansel Adams, Joan Baez (who visited the studio with Bob Dylan, and who had also baby-sat our host!) and many more.

Below are some photographic highlights of our adventures there (click on images to embiggen.)

Point Lobos:
Point Lobos with the Carmelite Monastery in the background:
The Clinton/Walker house, Carmel, Frank Lloyd Wright, architect:
Garrapata State Park:
Carmel Beach:
Carmel Beach:

To cap off the trip, we stopped in at DJ Cousin Mary’s place in the Los Trancos Woods near Palo Alto. Mary has been featured many times on FITK over the last 12 years and we have met before—in San Francisco and Reykjavík—but this was our first sighting of her in her “nest”. We had a great chat about music, literature, Iceland, and I got a peek of her fabulous archive of Surf Music recordings!

Thanks again, Mary, for your hospitality and your continued support. Needless to say, you and Ken are welcome anytime to Flippist World Headquarters.
Mary’s natural habitat

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Wanda Gág Day

It’s that time of year again to honor Artist/Writer/Illustrator/Translator Wanda Gág, born in New Ulm, Minnesota, on this day in 1893.

Here are a few of her unpublished drawings that I’ve recently uncovered on my sojourns on the internet:

Much more on Wanda

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, March 07, 2022

Venues in Iceland -#10

The National Theatre (Þjóðleikhúsið)
Solstafír, 2018

This venue is, excepting the main auditorium of Harpa, the most suitable one in Reykjavík for a full scale concert. Offering a full-width and depth proscenium stage with professional lighting and acoustics the formality of the setting encourages a quiet crowd, making it easy for the performer to interact:
Soley, 2018
Ólafur Árnalds, 2018

Is a mask-less crowd a sight we’ll ever see again?

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, March 04, 2022

The Union Bar Tapes -#1

She’s So Good

Another audio archive from 1976 of The Explodo Boys:

Jimmy Derbis, vocal on this raucous cover of the 1966 Wilson Pickett song.

Here are more Explodo Boys videos, CDs and stories.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Another Invitation

Another invitation, 1968, this time to the dorm room of a high school friend.

Come down off your throne and leave your body alone…

It was a nice private college, not Ivy League, but as close as my home town got to one.

Somebody must change…

She said ‘Let yourself in, I might be a little late.’ This was only the second year of co-ed dorms at the college, one of the first in the country. I had done a photo shoot with her the previous summer, she wanted to show how she had decorated her room.

You are the reason I've been waiting all these years…

When I did go in I was surprised to see that she had all the pictures I had taken of her pinned up on the walls. I wondered what her roommates had to say about that!

Somebody holds the key…

When I did go in I was surprised to see that she had all the pictures I had taken of her pinned up on the walls. I wondered what her roommates had to say about that! I sat down at her desk and turned on the radio; a Blind Faith song was playing.

Well, I'm near the end and I just ain't got the time…

The songs simple lyric channeled post-adolescent angst, repeated over and over, and made me think of how my life path had diverged from my friend’s. I was still living at home and becoming increasingly alienated. She had found a new home, here, in a place she made her own.

And I'm wasted and I can't find my way home…

While my studies were pointless, hers were focused. Her career track was set, while I hadn’t yet to start mine.

I can't find my way home…

After graduation I lost contact with her for years.

But I can't find my way home…

My studies were pointless, hers were directed. Her career track was set, while I hadn’t yet to start mine. I lost contact for with her for years. And she did go on to a career, making a name for herself, as did I, in a more humble fashion.

But I can't find my way home…

Several years later we met up again, her career had ended, while mine was reaching its zenith.

But I can't find my way home…

And then time caught up with me, and I joined the ranks of the unemployed as well. We got together more often and life was good.

Still I can't find my way home…

But then, ever since the pandemic began, I lost her… again.

And I've done nothing wrong…

All I have left of her are some photographs I took on that summer day.

But I can't find my way home.

Lyrics: Steve Winwood

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

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